As its commitment to the 2012 Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Annual Meeting, Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF), announces they will increase their efforts to tackle bush encroachment in Namibia and to develop a biomass industry, thereby protecting the bush/veld ecosystem, creating jobs, and providing clean, renewable energy. When completed, CCF’s commitment will yield over 600 metric tons of biomass fuel per month, employ dozens of Namibians, and restore nearly 1400 acres of habitat to productive use.
CCF’s Bushblok business was developed a decade ago when Dr. Laurie Marker, CCF’s Founder and Executive Director, discovered that bush encroachment was injuring cheetahs and significantly reducing available productive rangeland and farmland. With the help of a USAID grant, CCF developed sustainable methods of selectively harvesting the bush, and processed it into an award-winning low-emission, high heat fuel log called Bushblok. Bushblok won the Intel Tech Award for the Environment in 2008.
CCF will purchase new harvest equipment, re-tool its Bushblok biomass factory, and train new factory employees on the equipment. CCF will also educate local farmers in sustainable harvesting methods. The production process will be streamlined and will more efficiently harvest thornbush and produce biomass fuel.
CCF believes that developing biomass fuel opportunities in Namibia can address several critical issues. First, it restores valuable acreage that has been lost to bush encroachment, rendering it fit for use again as productive livestock farming land, and incidentally as rangeland for cheetahs and their prey. One 2008 study estimated that the problems of bush encroachment cost the Namibian economy over $700 million Namibian dollars ( ?$100 million USD) a year.
Additionally, CCF hopes by its efforts to encourage wider use of biomass energy. Biomass energy has the potential to provide a clean, renewable resource for electric generation. Namibia’s electric utility, NamPower, is estimating a power generation deficit of over 150 Megawatts by the end of 2013, with most of its power being supplied by aging coal-fired plants. With tens of millions of hectares of thornbush available for harvest, which could potentially provide over 100 million tons of fuel, Namibia could easily meet its current and future generation needs by developing the proper capacity. Such an effort would also generate hundreds of jobs, which, in a country with an estimated 50% unemployment rate, is no small matter.
To realize its commitment, CCF will be seeking corporations and individuals who can provide investment funding, expertise, or other resources toward the development and implementation of best-practices and strategies for bush harvest and processing as part of an emerging biomass fuel industry in Namibia.
CCF’s goal is to restore the habitat of the bushland, increase available grazing lands and stimulate the biomass industry in Namibia. The biomass industry will eventually create hundreds of entry-level jobs, which are desperately needed in Namibia. Even more compelling is the fact that the factors in play in Namibia that make biomass energy such an opportunity are not unique in Africa. Solutions developed by CCF in Namibia can be exported to other sub-Saharan African countries with similar issues.
Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) is the global leader in research and conservation of cheetahs. It is a USA 501c3 with field headquarters in Namibia. CCF is dedicated to saving the cheetah in the wild. CCF believes that understanding the cheetah’s biology, ecology, and interactions with people is essential to conserve the cheetah in the wild. The strategy is a three-pronged process of research, conservation and education, beginning with long-term studies to understand and monitor the factors affecting the cheetah’s survival. Results are used to develop conservation policies and programs. CCF works with local, national and international communities to raise awareness, communicate, and educate. Learn more about CCF at www.cheetah.org, follow us on Twitter: @ccfusa, or like us on Facebook at Facebook/CCFcheetah.
The Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), established in 2005 by President Bill Clinton, convenes global leaders to create and implement innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges. CGI Annual Meetings have brought together more than 150 heads of state, 20 Nobel Prize laureates, and hundreds of leading CEOs, heads of foundations and NGOs, major philanthropists, and members of the media. To date CGI members have made more than 2,100 commitments, which are already improving the lives of nearly 400 million people in more than 180 countries. When fully funded and implemented, these commitments will be valued at $69.2 billion.
CGI also convenes CGI America, a meeting focused on collaborative solutions to economic recovery in the United States, and CGI University (CGI U), which brings together undergraduate and graduate students to address pressing challenges in their community or around the world. For more information, visit clintonglobalinitiative.org and follow us on Twitter@ClintonGlobal and Facebook at facebook.com/clintonglobalinitiative.